Just a few weeks ago, dozens of thieves swarmed a Los Angeles Nordstrom to commit a mob-style “smash-and-grab” robbery crime in broad daylight. The incident, which investigators say cost the retailer between $60,000 and $100,000 in stolen merchandise, is yet another reminder that retail crime is not some pandemic-era fad that's going away.
Leaders are now sounding the alarm: CEOs from major retailers like Target, Macy’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods are on the record, warning shareholders that theft and crime are making a material impact on their earnings.
But while retailers feel the impact of these events on their bottom line, it’s workers on the frontline who experience them more viscerally. Over the past year, three-quarters (76%) of employers have experienced a security problem at their physical locations, according to Verkada’s 2023 Workplace Safety Survey. And over half of retail workers say that their biggest concerns at work are erratic customer behavior and theft.
These trends should serve as a wake-up call for retailers looking to attract talent ahead of the holiday shopping season. More than half (52%) of workers said they would resign in the next year if physical safety in their workplace does not improve soon. And employers who are losing employees due to safety concerns can’t replace them: as many as 43% of organizations said that personal safety concerns have become an impediment to hiring or retaining talent.
Addressing the Workplace Crisis
It's clear that retailers must step up — but how? Consider two approaches:
Listen to your frontline workers
One of the more surprising findings in our 2023 Workplace Safety Survey was the clear disconnect between workers and managers: 67% of leaders and managers said they thought their direct reports felt safe at work. Yet, when we asked workers, just 37% agreed. Before retailers can truly address the safety issues facing their workers, they must first truly listen to the problems workers face.
To offset the billions of dollars lost to retail crime, retailers have continued to boost their investment in loss prevention and technology. It’s time they make similar investments in protecting their people. Over 60% of workers said that technologies such as alarms, panic buttons, and security cameras are essential to keeping them safe. These efforts work: More than half (63%) of the workers we polled said that the more security measures that are in place at work, the safer they feel.
Creating a Safer Environment for Retail Workers
When it comes to retail worker safety, the stakes are high. Retailers must ensure they’re doing all they can to keep their frontline workers safe. Doing so won’t just improve their mental and physical well-being; it will also create the kinds of working environments that attract and retain talent.